Key Biscayne

Dream homes welcome visitors during annual tours


The Key Biscayne home tour is the first of several scheduled for this time of year.

If you go

What: Key Biscayne’s Chamber of Commerce Annual Home Tour, "Lifestyles in Paradise"

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Buses will depart from Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, located at 160 Harbor Drive

Tickets: $30 per person in advance. The day before the event and at the door, the tickets are $40.

For more information or to purchase tickets, log onto, call 305-361-5207 or email You can also contact Vivian Galego-Mendez at 305-205-2626 or email her at

Upcoming garden tours

Garden Club of the Upper Keys

“Pathways to Paradise” is the theme for the Garden Walk 2013. The tour will include five private gardens between mile markers 82 and 102, and will feature salt-tolerant gardens.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 22

Where: Meeting will take place at 9 a.m. at Francis Tracy Garden Center, 94040 Overseas Hwy., Tavernier

Tickets: $25. Available the day of the walk, at the Francis Tracy Garden Center and at each garden property.

For more information: contact Dee Dee Barreto at 305-332-0535 or at

The Villagers’ 2013 Garden Tour: Garden Concepts

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 2

Where: Central Gables, tickets can be picked up the day of the event at 1138 Obispo Ave., or 1242 South Greenway.

Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event. To purchase tickets in advance, send checks payable to The Villagers, marked “Garden Tour” (with a self-addressed stamped envelope) no later than Feb. 23, to: The Villagers Inc., P.O. Box 141843, Coral Gables, FL 33114-1843

For more information: Contact Julie Petrella Arch at 305-460-6030 or at

Near the end of Harbor Drive on Key Biscayne sits a large pink Mediterranean-style house, which James and Cristina Sammataro and their three children call home.

The family moved into their custom-built home in November 2011. The home has 7 bedrooms and eight and a half baths, and was built as a functional living space for the young family.

“I wanted the home to be spacious, functional and I didn’t want there to be dead or unused space,” Cristina Sammataro said.

The Sammataro home is one of six that will be part of the Key Biscayne’s Chamber of Commerce Annual Home Tour on Saturday. The tour is the first of several home and garden tours this time of year in South Florida.

The island-style interiors have something to offer for every member of the family. The house has a pool, a two-story library and office space, a playroom for the children, a theater room and a private guest suite.

The exterior, sponge painted in a distinct shade of pink with the hope that it will weather over time, has stucco walls.

“The idea is for it to weather with time so it looks old, so that in ten years it’ll look 100 years old,” Cristina Sammataro said. The color is more intense than I envisioned when I saw a small swatch. But now, I’m driving home and I see my pink home and it makes me happy.”

Cristina added that the family was influenced by their culture when they decided on the style for the home. She comes from a Hispanic background, and her husband has Italian roots.

“It just seems very warm, welcoming and inviting,” she said of her home. “This is the style that for me feels most like home.”

The home will serve as the final location for an annual sightseeing of six homes that will showcase typical island living in Key Biscayne during the home tour.

The tour, which is in its third year, will grant visitors the ability to witness first-hand what it’s like to live a "lifestyle in paradise."

The tour will kick-off at 10 a.m. at Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, where registration will be open to anyone interested in attending. Visitors will then take one of several Mercedes-Benz vans to embark on the tour that will stop at three homes with waterfront views and three located inland. Vans will depart at various times during the day.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Key Biscayne’s Chamber of Commerce.

“With the help, donations and cooperation of all the owners, businesses and restaurants, this is our way of saying thanks and opening our doors to other people so they see how beautiful Key Biscayne really is," said Vivian Galego-Mendez, home tour committee chairwoman.

Galego-Mendez, who has lived on Key Biscayne for 14 years, expects 400 people the day of the event.

“I think it’s a wonderful way of getting the community to come together,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to be a part of this.”

Though organizers of the tour will not reveal the address of the homes until the day of the tour for security reasons, they did provide hints about the other homes on the tour.

One of the other homes boasts a modern style of architecture.

Another inland home is a remodeled original Mackel home “with all the charm of Key Biscayne days gone by,” Galego-Mendez.

All six "elegant, high-end, luxury properties" each have a price tag above a million dollars, according to Galego-Mendez.

Tickets for the tour will be sold online before the event on for $30. Tickets will also be sold at the church the day of the tour for $40.

At the end of the tour, guests will be provided food from Key Biscayne restaurants, including Novecento of Key Biscayne and Archie’s Pizza.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

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